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Archive of posts filed under the Political Science category.

The Xbox before its time: Using the famous 1936 Literary Digest survey as a positive example of statistical adjustment rather than a negative example of non-probability sampling

In this article from 2017, Sharon Lohr and J. Michael Brick write: The Literary Digest poll of 1936 is a byword for bad survey research. Textbooks have long used it as a prime example of how sampling goes bad . . . The story of the 1936 poll is well known. Ten million ballots were […]

That $9 trillion bill on the sidewalk: Why don’t third-world countries borrow to get vaccines?

Gaurav Sood quotes this from June: “To get roughly 70% of the planet’s population inoculated by April, the IMF calculates, would cost just $50bn. The cumulative economic benefit by 2025, in terms of increased global output, would be $9trn, to say nothing of the many lives that would be saved.” https://www.economist.com/leaders/2021/06/09/the-west-is-passing-up-the-opportunity-of-the-century Gaurav continues: The Economist […]

Impressive visualizations of social mobility

An anonymous tipster points to this news article by Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce, and Kevin Quealy featuring an amazing set of static and dynamic graphs.

Politics and economic policy in the age of political science

Reading the London Review of Books, I came across this interesting essay by historian Adam Tooze about the transition of Paul Krugman from 1990s snobby center-left academic economist to 2000s angry left-wing pundit. This is something that’s puzzled me for awhile (see for example here and here), and Tooze gives a plausible account of Krugman’s […]

Ira Glass asks. We answer.

This post is a rerun. I was listening to This American Life on my bike today and heard Ira say: There’s this study done by the Pew Research Center and Smithsonian Magazine . . . they called up one thousand and one Americans. I do not understand why it is a thousand and one rather […]

“Sources must lose credibility when it is shown they promote falsehoods, even more when they never take accountability for those falsehoods.”

So says Michigan state senator Ed McBroom, in a quote reminiscent of the famous dictum by Daniel Davies, “Good ideas do not need lots of lies told about them in order to gain public acceptance.” I agree with both quotes. It’s kind of a Bayesian thing, or a multilevel modeling thing. Lots of people make […]

What’s the purpose of mathematical modeling?

Peter Dorman writes: I think this is an example of what good science journalism looks like. The description of modeling methods and even workflow is as accurate as it could be without getting beyond the technical background of its readership. Nice graphics! I like the discussion of the tradeoff between granularity in model design and […]

Get this man a job at the Hoover Institution!

Paul Alper shares this charming/horrifying news story: Wisconsin pharmacist Steven Brandenburg who destroyed more than 500 doses of covid vaccine is a flat-Earther Steven Brandenburg, the Wisconsin pharmacist who is charged with destroying nearly 600 doses of the Moderna vaccine, also believes the Earth is flat and that the sky is not real . . […]

Lumley on the Alzheimer’s drug approval

Last week we discussed the FDA’s controversial approval of a new Alzheimer’s drug. Here’s more on the topic from statistician Thomas Lumley, who knows more about all of this than I do: [Cautious optimism is] a very sensible attitude, in the abstract: if the drug turns out to be effective it could be valuable, but […]

MRP and Missing Data Question

Andy Timm writes: I’m curious if you have any suggestions for dealing with item nonresponse when using MRP. I haven’t seen anything particularly compelling in a literature review, but it seems like this has to have come up. It seems like a surprisingly large number of papers just go for a complete cases analysis, or […]

About those claims that the election forecasts hurt the Democrats in November

One reason that I’m skeptical of these claims of depressed voter turnout is that I’m old, and I remember the 1980 election. People blamed the Democrats’ poor performance in the west coast on the fact that the election had been called for Reagan before the polls had closed in those states. So the message seems […]

4 years of an unpopular Republican president –> bad news for Republican support among young voters –> continuation of unprecedented generation gap –> I’m not sure what this implies for politics

We hear from Ole Rogeberg on occasion: 2009: Taking Absurd Theories Seriously: Economics and the Case of Rational Addiction Theories 2011: Descriptive statistics, causal inference, and story time 2012: Scientific fraud, double standards and institutions protecting themselves 2013: Struggles over the criticism of the “cannabis users and IQ change” paper 2015: Cannabis/IQ follow-up: Same old […]

When does a misunderstanding reach the point where it is recognized to be flat-out ridiculous?

James Lasdun reviews a book by Ariel Sabar telling the story of a conman who sold a fake Bible-related document to a Harvard professor, leading to academic publications and media publicity before the whole thing fell apart. The most amusing of many amusing bits: An Egyptologist at Brown University, Leo Depuydt, found a ‘colossal double […]

Impressions of differential privacy for supreme court justices

This is Jessica. A couple weeks ago Priyanka Nanayakkara pointed me to the fact that Alabama is suing the Census Bureau on the grounds that by using differential privacy it is “intentionally skew[ing] the population tabulations provided to States to use for redistricting” and “forc[ing] Alabama to redistrict using results that purposefully count people in […]

Your tax dollars at work (junk social science edition)

A couple people pointed me to this article: With this sort of work, I always wonder whether people who do this sort of thing really believe what they’re doing, or if they’re purposely complexifying things, the way that in chess you might try to make the board position more complex if you’re down a couple […]

2020: What happened?

Yair Ghitza and Jonathan Robinson write: Based on our analysis to date, the following are our 10 big takeaways for election results for the top-of-the-ticket presidential race: 1. This was the most diverse electorate ever. The voting electorate continues to become more diverse, and 2020 was the most racially diverse electorate ever. This was due […]

2 reasons why the CDC and WHO were getting things wrong: (1) It takes so much more evidence to correct a mistaken claim than to establish it in the first place; (2) The implicit goal of much of the public health apparatus is to serve the health care delivery system.

Peter Dorman points to an op-ed by Zeynep Tufekci and writes: This is a high profile piece in the NY Times on why the CDC and WHO have been so resistant to the evidence for aerosol transmission. What makes it relevant is the discussion of two interacting methodological tics, the minimization of Type I error […]

Raymond Smullyan on Ted Cruz, Al Sharpton, and those scary congressmembers

Palko shares this fun logic puzzle from the great Raymond Smullyan which also has obvious implications for modern politics: Inspector Craig of Scotland Yard was called to Transylvania to solve some cases of vampirism. Arriving there, he found the country inhabited both by vampires and humans. Vampires always lie and humans always tell the truth. […]

Postmodernism for zillionaires

“Postmodernism” in academia is the approach of saying nonsense using a bunch of technical-sounding jargon. At least, I think that’s what postmodernism is . . . Hmm, let’s check wikipedia: Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from […]

Whassup with the weird state borders on this vaccine hesitancy map?

Luke Vrotsos writes: I thought you might find this interesting because it relates to questionable statistics getting a lot of media coverage. HHS has a set of county-level vaccine hesitancy estimates that I saw in the NYT this morning in this front-page article. It’s also been covered in the LA Times and lots of local […]

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